Brussels (Belgium): Ursula von der Leyen of Germany has been elected as the first female president of the European Commission (EC) after her nomination was approved by 383 votes in a secret ballot on Tuesday evening (local time) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
A long-time ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a member of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union, Von der Leyen was elected by a narrow margin of just nine votes over the required 374. She had called for a “united and strong Europe” and won the support of the voters by promising a minimum wage and a path to a carbon-neutral Europe, CNN reported.
The 60-year-old outgoing German defence minister and multilingual mother of seven will succeed Jean-Claude Juncker, who has served as president of the EC since 2014 and is due to step down on October 31.
She will be tasked with leading the European Union’s executive body and providing political guidance to the Commission, which proposes new laws, manages the EU budget and is responsible for enforcing EU law.
Addressing the European Parliament, Von der Leyen also spoke on gender equality and said that she would propose to add violence against women to the list of EU crimes.
In a letter on Monday addressed to the parliament’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, von der Leyen had also said that she would propose a “new pact on migration and asylum,” that would establish a “new way of burden sharing,” and would plan to bring the EU’s border force Frontex to 10,000 staff by 2024.
Von der Leyen will assume her position on November 1, one day after Britain’s current scheduled withdrawal from the EU.
In a press conference after her election, Von der Leyen spoke on Brexit, saying she will work in a “constructive way” with any new UK leader ahead of the October 31 deadline.
She declined to say if she would rather see Boris Johnson or UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the frontrunners for the Conservative leadership contest to become Britain’s new Prime Minister.
In a statement, Merkel congratulated her, saying she looked forward to “good cooperation” with von der Leyen as “a new partner” in Brussels.
“After over 50 years, a German will be at the top of the European executive,” the Chancellor stressed. (ANI)